Articles in Category: Deer Resistant

Dwarf and Compact Conifers

on Thursday, 09 December 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

A Selection of Dwarf and Compact Conifers

We get a lot of requests for dwarf (under 6' tall) and compact (6' to 20' tall) conifers, and this is a great time of year to find a good selection of them here at Shooting Star Nursery!

Let's start with a word about conifer sizes. Like most conifers, these dwarf and compact conifers never really stop growing - it's just that most of them grow fairly slowly and will remain small for a long time. The sizes given in the plant descriptions below are a good representative of their likely size in 10-20 years. Here are a few of our favorite dwarf and compact conifer species:

Picea glauca Procumbens smProstrate Colorado Blue Spruce: A sweet, prostrate form of Colorado Blue Spruce (shown here with Wilma Goldcrest Cypress in the background. These plants will do well in the garden, or in a large containter, and respond well to selective pruning and shaping. Size: 2' tall by 5'-8' wide in 10 years.

  

Hornbrook Pine smHornbrook Pine: A lovely little dark green, dwarf pine; this variety started out as a 'witch's broom' on a standard Austrian Black Pine. They are medium growing (6 to 12"/year), and will reach 3-6' tall and wide in 10 years.

  

Divinely Blue cedar sm'Divinely Blue' Deodar Cedar: Do you love the graceful branches of Deodar Cedars, but can't find the room to accomodate an 80' tall tree? Consider this dwarf form! 'Divinely Blue' has the same blue-green needles of the full-sized Deodar Cedar, but forms a low mounding shape with nodding branch tips. Plants are slow-growing (less than 6"/year), and will measure roughly 2-6' by 3-6' in 10 years.

 

 

Chalet pine detail sm'Swiss Chalet' Stone Pine: This is a very showy and decorative-looking little pine. One of the things that makes it special is that its dark green needles have a white reverse side, which really makes tha plant "pop" in the garden. 'Swiss Chalet' has a moderate growth rate (6-12"/year), and will be 5-8' tall by 2-4' wide in 10 years. While 'Swiss Chalet' can tolerate full sun, it will look even better if you can provide it with a bit of afternoon shade.

 

 Fat Albert sm'Fat Albert' Blue Spruce: This tree is pretty much everything you have ever wanted in a Blue Spruce, and is one of our favorits here at Shooting Star! It's also a wonderful choice for a living Christmas tree. The needles are a lovely shade of blue-green, and ttrees have a chubby, densely pyramidal shape (hence the name). 'Fat Albert' is a fairly fast grower - often over 12"/year - and can reach sizes of 25' by 15' at maturity.

  

The Blues'The Blues' Weeping Blue Spruce: If you are looking for a truly striking specimen conifer that can provide a strong focal point in your garden, 'The Blues' Weeping Blue Spruce is a great choice. 'The Blues' has an irregular, weeping form - and no two plants are alike. They respond well to creating pruning and shaping, as you can see from the three shown to the right. Plants are relatively slow growing - generally around 6"/year, and will reach 6-8' tall by 2-4' wide in 10 years.

Euphorbias

on Saturday, 04 December 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Wood Spurges

Euphorbia-with-Allium

Another plant we love to sing the praises of: evergreen, usually compact, deer resistant and drought tolerant - with flowers that last 3 months or more. The only thing you have to do to enjoy them is to not overwater, and to prune the flower stems back to the base of the plant after blooming is done.

This photo shows a Euphorbia characias variety in full bloom, with Allium 'Purple Sensation' in the foreground. Flowering begins in early spring and will easily last into July. The flowers are set off by the larger bracts, thus lasting longer than a typical petaled flower. When flowering stalks start to brown or look faded, just prune the flower stem all the way to the ground so the new stems can fill in.

As an added bonus, Euphorbias are evergreen in all but the coldest Rogue Valley winters, and their foliage tends to color up in winter; providing a nice visual interest in the winter garden. Euphorbias will take full sun to half a day of sun and need well draining soil. They all have a white sap in their stems keeping the deer at bay but can also cause a rash in some people, so wear gloves when pruning Euphorbias.

There are many, many varieties of Euphorbia, here are some of our favorites:

Prunus lusitanica

on Wednesday, 24 November 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fragrant Blooms, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Deer Resistant

Portuguese Laurel

portugueseLaurelCloseEvergreen hedges are a great way to create a privacy screen, a windbreak, or even a ‘green wall’ to use as a backdrop for a selection of vibrant, colorful selection of shrubs and perennials.

One of the challenges to creating a good hedge here in the Rogue Valley is that you’ll want an evergreen shrub that is both relatively fast-growing AND deer resistant. And one of the very best options we’ve found for meeting both of those criteria is Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica).

portugueseLaurelFlowersPortuguese Laurel has dark, glossy, leathery leaves that contrast nicely with its wine-red stems. In spring, plants are covered with 6-10” long spikes of tiny, fragrant white flowers, which are extremely popular with bees and other pollinators.

The flowers are followed by berries that start out red, and ripen to dark blue-black. These berries are a big treat for wintering songbirds, but should be avoided by humans - like many members of the genus Prunus, their seeds contain cyanide. Want to avoid the berries altogether? Do your main pruning in early summer once the plants have finished blooming.

portugueseLaurel2Left untrimmed, mature Portuguese Laurels can reach between 20’-30’ tall and will get about 10’ wide. These plants tolerate pruning well, though, and can be kept to 10’ or so with regular pruning. Ideally, they should be planted around 10’ apart. But if you’re in a big hurry to not see what’s on the other side of your hedge, they an be planted as closely as every 6’. Plants generally grow about 18” or so per year, although this is variable and dependent on the type of soil they’re growing in - plants in clay soils tend to grow slower than plants in loamy or sandy soils.

Portuguese Laurel grows best in full sun, but will also tolerate a bit of afternoon shade. They do prefer well-drained soil; if you are planting in clay, you’ll either want to plant them with a high crown or on a slight mound. During the first year or so, they’ll prefer a good, deep soaking once a week. Once established, they are relatively drought tolerant and will only need deep watering a few times a month.

Rhus 'Gro-Low'

on Monday, 08 November 2021. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Deer Resistant

'Gro-Low' Fragrant Sumac

Rhus Gro Low plant edRhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ is another one of those plants we like to feature here in our Plant of the Week column, because it checks all our boxes: a native plant; deer resistant and drought tolerant once established; a great pollinator plant (functioning as both nectar source and a host plant for butterflies/moths); wildlife-friendly; a good choice for firewise gardens; and is even clay tolerant if planted on a slope or a mound.

As its name suggests, Rhus ‘Gro-Low’ only gets 1 ½’ to 2’ tall, and spreads to 6 to 8’ wide, giving it a nice mounded shape. Plants are fast-growing, with attractive (and fragrant!) glossy green leaves. It grows best in full sun, but will also tolerate a slight bit of afternoon shade.

Small, nondescript creamy-white flowers appear on branch tips in spring. While humans might not be impressed by the flowers, they’re a wonderful source of nectar for pollinators including bees and butterflies. ‘Gro-Low’ is a great plant to use if you are looking to extend the length of the bloom season in your pollinator garden.

Rhus Gro Low2Rhus ‘Gro-Low’ also proves that great fall color doesn’t only come on trees! These shrubs but on quite a show, with leaves turning a variety of shades of fiery orange, mahogany red, and deep burgundy. 

Finally, because of its ability to spread via root suckers and by branches that are able to root down where they touch the soil (like some species of Manzanitas), ‘Gro-Low’ is an especially useful plant for gardeners looking to stabilize a slope or an eroding streambank.  

Polystichum munitum

on Thursday, 21 October 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Western Sword Fern

Western Sword FernThe sculptural fronds of ferns provide lots of winter interest, and Western Sword Fern is one of the toughest, most drought tolerant, and easiest ferns to grow in the Rogue Valley. 

This native fern can tolerate our dry summers and wet winters and even take a little sun. It prefers to be an understory plant but established ferns in good, composty soil will tolerate quite a bit of sun. The key is to get them well established with deep waterings the first few summers and applications of yearly leaf mulch or compost mulch. Western Sword Fern has a courser texture than some more delicate ferns but that makes their fronds last longer, allowing them to be used in cut flower arrangements. The leathery, dark green fronds can be 2-4' tall depending where they are grown and can be used alone or look especially good in clumps or drifts. 

Polystichum detailWe like to use Western Sword Ferns under large trees - like oaks, combined with Euphorbia purpurea, Heuchera sanguinea or the purple leafed varieties of Coral bells, Mahonia repens, and other dry shade perennials and shrubs. All ferns are deer resistant and the Western Sword Fern is no exception. They are evergreen but will look their best with an annual shearing of the oldest fronds in spring to allow the new fronds to uncurl. Leave the old, pruned fronds as a natural mulch.  Ferns are always interesting to watch throughout the seasons and Western Sword Fern makes an especially nice evergreen specimen in the shade garden.